Sunday, November 10, 2013

Segregation and Integration: A Geography of People in Metropolitan Detroit

Segregation and Integration: A Geography of People in Metropolitan Detroit 
by Judy Stamp Humphrey (Judith Stamp)
Publisher: Advancement Press of America
Date: 1972
47 pages

Click the following link for the full text of the book (PDF format, file size 12Mb):

Segregation and Integration: A Geography of People in Metropolitan Detroit

From the Introduction:

There is tension on the urban scene in America today and Detroit has its full share. It is not the productive tension of a cooperative struggle to reach common goals. Neither is it the creative tension of individuals reaching for self-fulfillment in an environment of equal opportunity. Rather it is a tension of fear and mistrust, resulting from a growing distance between two parts of the urban whole. The two parts are the white "haves" in the suburbs and the black "have-nots" in the central city.

Detroit is a contiguous whole, from Saint Clair Shores to Westland, and from Southfield to Wyandotte. Its people share a common life-space and depend on a common resource base for their livelihood.  They cannot ignore each other. And yet, Detroit has well established the trend (noted by the Kerner Commission) toward "two societies : one black, one white - separate and unequal." [Otto Kerner and others, Report of the National Advisory Commission of Civil Disorders (New York: Bantam Books, 1968), p. 1]

There are many signs of the tension in the suburbs. There is suburbanites' fear and avoidance of the inner city. There is the emotional groundswell of opposition to metropolitan busing to achieve racial integration of school children. And there is Warren's rejection of urban renewal funds in fear of pressure from the Federal government to bring low-income housing to the suburb.

At the edges of the two societies there is residential influx by Blacks and flight by Whites to the suburbs. In the racially-mixed high schools of neighborhoods in transition, the tension often breaks into open conflict and such incidents only serve to reinforce suburban fears of racial integration.

More serious than the tension in the suburbs and the sporadic conflict between teenagers caught in the middle, are the antisocial conditions in the central city which give rise to black disillusionment and white fears. Cut off from the accepted middle-class routes to self-fulfillment and productivity, young Blacks nonetheless are conditioned to want the psychological and material rewards of success. Good education in an atmosphere of high motivation is beyond their reach, as is mobility in rewarding fields of work. Some then turn to accessible livelihoods in petty or grand drug traffic and crime to reach their objectives. They build a subculture in which the values of the main society, and hence its laws, are considered irrelevant.

In a positive vein, the subculture has fostered the development of black self-consciousness and pride and black community. These are given cultural expression in a thousand ways from black studies and black enterprise to religion and rock.

The positive contributions of black culture have not allayed suburbanites' fears of street violence, however. The riots of the summer of 1967 followed years of growing disillusionment at unfulfilled promises of social change. Tensions in the black community found vent in a destructive rebellion which tore their inner city home apart. The conditions against which young Blacks rebelled have changed little since then. And although the rebellion did not presage a feared massive revolt of the black poor, neither did it spark the change of heart and behavior called for by the Kerner Commission in the months following the riot, to reverse the trend toward two separate societies.

We have not yet witnessed a change of social direction toward a society whose members would have equal access to our wealth of resources for self-fulfillment. Neither have we begun to close the gap between haves and have-nots by an "enrichment policy" – a redistribution of resources from rich to poor areas.

Segregation in Detroit, as in much of urban America, is not only between the white middle-class and the black poor. Others also face obstacles to participation in the productive mainstream of an industrial city. Smaller groups of urban newcomers: Southern Whites, Mexican Americans and American Indians are barred from full social and economic integration and are segregated in small-scale ghettos in the inner city.

Older members of the working class (often the first generation newcomers of an earlier wave of immigration) are pushed into poverty, by the erosive effects of inflation on their fixed retirement incomes. They must stay behind in the city while their children leave, for they cannot afford a new mortgage in the suburbs. As they age they face an even more isolated fate. With the handicapped and psychotic, the aged poor are treated according to Philip Slater's "Toilet Assumption"... that out of sight is out of mind. Flushed from view into "institutional holes," they live out lives in neglect and degradation.

The flotsam and jetsam of industrial society, together with the new counterculture [Charles Reich in Greening of America (New York: Random House, 1970), calls this group "Consciousness III", a counterculture rediscovering individuality, freedom, community. Ch. 9.] also find separate places in the central city. Old pushouts and young dropouts, often with the aid of alcohol or drugs, move in, stay a while, and move on.

And what of the haves? The middle class and the wealthy in the suburbs enjoy a material standard of living unequalled by counterparts elsewhere in the world today or in the past. Yet there is a great deal of unhappiness. The tensions are not solely due to fear, or the demands of the poor. There is conflict between husband and wife, and between parent and child. There are men and women who feel trapped in roles where they feel personal fulfillment is lacking. Children of the middle-class are bored or disillusioned with material surfeit, and alienated from their parents' apparent docility in their roles. Often they leave home early seeking new lifestyles in the counterculture.

These problems have been catalogued again and again, and their relationship to each other has been explored by several notable authors. They are seen to be deeply interrelated, and can be attributed to the nature of industrial society and its goals. John Kenneth Galbraith notes:
"If we continue to believe that the goals of the industrial system – the expansion of output, the companion increase in consumption, technological advance, the public images that sustain it – are coordinate with life, then all of our lives will be in service of these goals. What is consistent with these ends we shall have or be allowed; all else will be off limits." [John Kenneth Galbraith, The New Industrial State (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1967), Ch. 35.]

Have we not reached this condition already? Consistent with man's "benign servitude" to this framework of economic goals are strong drives toward competition, individualism and independence.

In this geographic study, we will examine, by means of maps, how the goals of the industrial state have been extended to the realm of social space in Detroit, and have affected the spatial ordering of society. This has been done by the separation of people into homogeneous areas of economic, cultural and generational status. The system of social segregation in space that is the result has been voluntarily created and maintained by the people of the metropolitan area – at least those people who have the economic freedom to move (the middle class) and who are not prevented from doing so by discriminatory barriers (the Whites). Many of these people believe that urban man is happier, more secure and better provided for when he is with his own kind in an environment of social homogeneity. In addition, those who build residential areas on the urban landscape – land developers, as they are euphemistically called – foster these attitudes in their marketing of real estate and land, and offer no alternatives to the home-seeker who may wish for more social heterogeneity. In each area they build large tract and subdivision developments for a particular section of the economic market, and while such forms of urban growth offer economies of scale to the builder, they rob the future resident of the possibility of a varied physical and social environment.

Charles Reich notes:
 "... The suburbs to which [most people] return at night are... places of loneliness and alienation. Modern living has obliterated place, locality and neighborhood and given us the anonymous separateness of our existence." [Charles Reich, op cit., p. 9.]

The home-seeker is offered a comfortable but bland environment devoid of the need for social involvement and lacking in the sense of community that is produced by such involvement. Though his sense of ''something missing" may be nameless, it has repercussions in the tensions in the suburbs mentioned earlier: the need to protect the homogeneity of this dearly-bought environment from feared incursions by the poor and by Blacks, and in the parent-child hostilities engendered by fears of the youths' counterculture. Philip Slater explains these fears in terms of Freudian psychology: 5
 "When a fear seems out of proportion [we suspect] that it has been bloated by a wish; and this seems particularly likely when the danger is defined as a psychological one - an evil influence. We fear storms and wild beasts, but we do not censor them. If we must guard ourselves against evil influences we thereby admit their seductive appeal." [Philip Slater, The Pursuit of Loneliness: American Culture at the Breaking Point (Boston: Beacon Press, 1970), Ch.1.]

Slater sees "three human desires that are deeply and uniquely frustrated by American culture: They are the desire for community... the desire for engagement... and the desire for dependence." The character of suburban anti-communities is voluntarily created and maintained in close correspondence with the goals of the industrial economic system. At the same time the secondary yearnings of community and involvement are frustrated, and it is this suppression that brings about the suburban tensions.

In this study we will identify the areas of metropolitan Detroit which exemplify the characteristics described above. After a brief summary of the growth of Detroit showing the increasing size and diversity of the city with progressive industrialization, we examine the social segregation in Detroit. The three constructs of segregation are income, culture and age.

Chapter III describes lifestyle regions of different age groups in the urban society, focusing on their particular needs. This approach cuts across political and racial boundaries to look at the particular needs and resources of adults, the young and the elderly, and then, with maps and pictures, shows the sharp contrast in the way these common needs are met for different economic and racial groups, and for the two sexes.

Finally, in Chapter IV, the prospect of integration in restored communities is considered. In the Detroit area there are a few regions and institutions that have at least partial integration of cultures, income groups or generation groups, and their strengths and weaknesses and potential for expansion are examined in the evaluation.


"Few of us realize that it is the Prince of Disciplines, combining the fruits of geology, meteorology, anthropology, sociology, economics and dozens of other specialties. The good geographer is a philosopher."

– Carlton S. Coon
[Caravan: Story of the Middle East (Rev. ed.; New York: Holt and Co., 1962, p. 10.]

The geographer's traditional role has been to describe the character of man's world in an orderly way. Anything that can be tied to a particular location in space can be subject to his analysis. But because of the world's complexity, he must be selective, and his perceptions on the nature of the world's spatial "order" are crucial to the fruitfulness of his efforts.

The geographer is also a scientist, and in addition to perceptions or intuitions which are a basis for theories he has several analytic tools at his command. Of first importance is the map, onto which all representations of spatial reality are projected. The concept of "region" is also central. A region is an area of any size that is homogeneous in terms of selected criteria. It is a spatial "category," and is used in several types of geographic analysis. In addition to analysis which seeks to determine regions, there is locational and ecological analysis. In the former the goal is to determine "the why of the where of things." In the latter the concern is with in situ environmental relationships. In each approach the virtue rests not in delineating a special field of "facts" but in the ability to perceive, analyze, and synthesize all facts relevant to a particular situation in space.

Finally, the geographer can also be a practitioner of social change. He can illuminate problem areas and pinpoint those that need prompt action. And, as in the case of this study, he can focus on areas which demonstrate at least a partial solution to particular problems so as to consider their application elsewhere.

Read an article from the Detroit Free Press that came out shortly after the publication of Segregation and Integration: "Adding Vitality to Detroit Values."

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